Mark 1:1 Commentary - Old and New Testaments Restoration CommentaryMar 1:1-8
COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL
ACCORDING TO MARK
THE MINISTRY OF JESUS IN GALILEE
Mar 1:1 to Mar 9:50
THE BAPTISM AND TEMPTATION OF JESUS
1. THE BEGINNING OF THE GOSPEL
(Mat 3:1-12; Luk 3:1-18; Joh 1:6-34)
1 The beginning--[Mark begins the account of the gospel of Jesus Christ by quoting the prophecy concerning the messenger that was to prepare for the coming of Jesus. John came as his herald to announce his coming, and to make ready the people whom God had been preparing from the days of Abraham to receive Jesus.]
of Jesus Christ,-- The promised Messiah. [Jesus means Savior. He came to save people from their sins. To save from sin is to save from all evil--from all suffering. Sin is the cause of all sorrow--all suffering. Jesus was given as the human name of him who came to save people from sin. "Christ" means anointed--sent of God. Christ and Messiah mean the same. He was sent and anointed of God to save man from sin. Jesus was divine--begotten of God, born of woman. He was the Godman, both divine and human.]
the Son of God.-- Matthew and Luke introduce Jesus first as "son of David, the son of Abraham." (Mat 1:1.) Mark introduces him as "the Son of God." He emphasizes the relation of Jesus to God rather than to Abraham and the Jewish people. Mark points out his divine origin and Matthew his human.
Not only is the ministry of John the beginning of the unfolding of a new dispensation of mercy and love; but it is the beginning of the end of the old dispensation. The old covenant was having its death knell tolled by John in the wilderness and the work was completed by Christ "nailing it to the cross." (Col 2:14.)
2 Even as it is written in Isaiah the prophet,--[He quotes here the prophecy first of Malachi (Mal 3:1) to show that the coming of John as the forerunner of Christ had been foretold by the prophets, and that the gospel had begun in accordance with the prophecy.] "The gospel of Jesus Christ" began to be unfolded, not according to uninspired men, but according to the prediction of inspired prophets, with the preaching and practices of John the Baptist.
Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way;--[It was customary with princes and kings and the great ones of earth, when going on a journey or visiting a new place, to send messengers, or herald, before to make ready for the reception. Jesus adopted this order, but the preparation differed from that of the kings of earth. Malachi says (Mal 4:5-6): "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of Jehovah come. And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers; lest I come and smite the earth with a curse." Jesus has told us that John was the Elijah that was to come. Jesus as the Son of God was coming, and if he should come and find the people unprepared to receive him, he would smite the earth with a curse. When God meets man, it is to bless, if he is worthy. If he is not worthy, then he will smite with a curse. John says he is not the very Elijah. Jesus says he came in the power and spirit of Elijah.]
3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness,--[A thinly populated country. John grew up in this country south of Jerusalem, and began his preaching preparatory to the coming of Jesus.] This was the wilderness of Judea. (Verse 1.)
Make ye ready the way of the Lord,--Luke records him as more fully quoting the prophecy of Isa 40:3-5.
All of which means that John should turn the people from their sins and make them willing to receive the message that Christ should bring. He preached Christ as the coming Savior. The people too were to prepare "the way of the Lord." That is, make ready themselves--prepare your own hearts, to entertain the glad tidings of the gospel. The preparation was to be made in their hearts. The way of the Lord is through the heart. They prepared "the way of the Lord" by preparing and making the heart fit for receiving the Lord. John prepared the way by telling the people what the Lord required of them and they by removing everything from the heart that might obstruct or hinder the Lord from entering.
Make his paths straight;--Highways that have not been properly surveyed at the beginning are straightened later. So are the ways of men when no preparation of heart has been made by them to receive Christ. The burden of John's work was to induce men to stop their crooked ways and prepare themselves to receive their coming guest--Christ. He admonished them to remove all obstructions out of the way, so that the Savior and King might have a ready passage, and free access to their hearts, and there erect his spiritual kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy, and rule their lives and conduct by his holy laws. "His paths" which he travels is the heart of man. Every human heart is a path.
4 John came,--[John the Baptist was six months older than Jesus. He had grown to manhood in the wilderness of Judea; was stern, unbending, courageous, and faithful in denouncing sin and warning the people to repent and flee from the wrath to come. He began his ministry at about thirty years of age, as he seems to have been preaching only a few months when Jesus, about thirty years of age, came to him to be baptized of him. At thirty years of age the Levites were required to enter on their service in the temple. It is said in Numbers (Num 8:24) that they began at twenty-five. It is supposed at twenty-five they entered the service as pupils under the old Levites to fit them for the full service at thirty. David (1Ch 23:27) reduced the age of entering on the service to twenty. "For by the last words of David the sons of Levi were numbered, from twenty years old and upward." David greatly extended the service. It is thought this made need of greater numbers in the service. Whether this addition to the service and change of the age by David was acceptable to God has always been a question of doubt with many. When the added service is referred to in subsequent history, it is spoken of "as ordained by David." John and Jesus entered upon their missions at the age of thirty years.]
who baptized in the wilderness and preached--[This does not mean that he baptized before he preached, but that he preached repentance that led them to baptism. He preached baptism of repentance. This means the baptism connected with repentance. John preached that they should repent of their sins--turn to God--and to show their repentance they must be baptized. Baptism was commanded by God as the act of the person which declared his repentance. Their sins arose from disobedience to God. Baptism was an act of submission that declared to the world their willingness to obey God. Baptism is what is called a positive ordinance--a command of God--humiliating in itself, is unpleasant to be submitted to, in which human reason can see no good, resting on the authority of God, and given to test man's willingness to obey God. It is claimed by some that baptism had been an ordinance of admission of proselytes to the Jewish faith, but there is no intimation of such ordinance in the Bible, nor in any authentic history before John preached it. Bathings and ablutions had been connected with the purifications of the Jewish law, but John introduced the ordinance, and by preeminence he is called the "Baptist"--one who baptizes.]
unto remission of sins.--Baptism connected with the repentance as preached by John was for, or unto, the remission of sins. This means God had appointed this act as the expression and embodiment of repentance which brought the state and place in which God would forgive sins. There was no virtue or efficacy in the act to bring pardon. God forgives sin.
5 And there went out unto him all the country of Judaea, and all they of Jerusalem;--This is a figurative expression, as the land itself could not go to him. The place, or country, where the people lived is placed for the people themselves. It means the people, not all the people, but the people generally from all the land of Judea and they of Jerusalem.
and they were baptized of him--Whether John in person baptized all that were baptized we know not. Jesus is said to have baptized, and yet it is stated that he in person did not baptize but his disciples. (Joh 3:22; Joh 4:1-2.)
in the river Jordan,--The baptism did not take place at, or near, but in the river Jordan.
confessing their sins.--They, in coming to baptism, confessed their sins as preparatory to God forgiving their sins when they were baptized. Confession of sins--owning their sins--is in order to the forgiveness of sins. The sins were forgiven in baptism, the confession preceded the baptism. Pardon takes place in heaven where the pardoning power is. Baptism is nothing, if it does not carry with it the confession and abandonment of sin.
6 And John was clothed with camel's hair,--[The camel's hair cloth was the sackcloth that the poorer classes wore, and that was worn in affliction and humiliation. It was made of coarse hair of the goat, or camel. John lived an abstemious life. He was of the priestly order, and lived the life of a Nazarite. Jesus says to the people: "John the Baptist is come eating no bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a demon. The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold, a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners!" (Luk 7:33-34.)]
and had a leathern girdle about his loins,--[He had a girdle of untanned skins about his loins.]
and did eat locusts--Living in the wilderness, his food was that of the wilderness. Several varieties of locusts, after being denuded of the legs and wings, are boiled, roasted or fried, sprinkled with salt, and eaten by the poorer classes to this day. This probably was the Egyptian locust. It was a large, voracious insect which the Jews were permitted to eat. "Even these of them ye may eat:the locust after its kind, and the bald locust after its kind." (Lev 11:22.)
and wild honey.--[The wild honey was the honey of the wild bees that abounded in the land of Judea. This dress and food showed that he lived an austere life of self-denial. There is but little doubt that this life lends zeal and fervor to the religious and devotional spirit. He denounced sin in great and small, and proclaimed repentance with such earnestness and fervor that he struck terror to the multitudes and they came to him to be baptized. Luke and Matthew both tell us that he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, and said unto them: "Ye offspring of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruit worthy of repentance: and think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham." (Mat 3:7-9.) Many think he refused to baptize these persons until they had first brought forth fruit worthy of repentance. I do not believe this is true. He baptized them, and told them, now bring forth fruit worthy of the repentance into which he had baptized them. The meaning of the language as reported by Luke is, the Jewish family, as the people of God, will be rejected, and every man must depend on what fruit he bears in his life for favor of God. He cannot depend on fleshly relation to Abraham.]
7 And he preached, saying, There cometh after me he that is mightier than I, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose.--An expression of intense humility. Matthew says: "Whose shoes I am not worthy to bear." Luke and John omit the expression "stoop down."
[John came to make ready a people for the Lord, Christ; so he preached the coming of Christ--his majesty, and power. Those who heard John thought highly of him as a prophet of God and a preacher of righteousness but he exalts Jesus by saying, "I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose" his shoes. Loosing the shoes was a menial service. Jesus was so much greater than he, he was not worthy to do this for him.]
8 I baptized you in water;--[John shows here the contrast between himself and Jesus. John used water, Jesus the Spirit of the living God, with which to overwhelm man. The Spirit is in reality at the command of Jesus to be used by him, as water was at the command of John. The Authorized Version puts it "with water." From the expression "with" many contend the water was applied to the individual, not the person baptized in the water. The first meaning of the word translated "with" is "in," but "with" does not carry the idea of applying the substance to the person. A woman colors her cloth with dye; the smith cools his iron with water; but neither does it by sprinkling or pouring water on the substance. The woman colors her cloth and the smith cools his iron by dipping--immersing them in water, and "baptized with water" shows the substance used in baptism and not the manner of applying it.]
but he shall baptize you in the Holy Spirit.--[Some would ask, were they baptized in the Spirit? They were overwhelmed with it. It does not mean a little of the Holy Spirit was poured out, or sprinkled, on one spot of the person. The expressions, the baptism of the Spirit, the pouring out of the Spirit, the shedding forth of the Spirit, are figurative expressions. The Spirit is a person of the Godhead, and we cannot pour out the person of the Godhead as a liquid from one vessel to another. It indicates the person is brought completely under the influence and control of the Spirit of God, or that the Spirit is sent from heaven to control and guide man. So were they baptized--overwhelmed in suffering.] Matthew (Mat 3:11) adds "and in fire," which shows that John's audience was mixed--some good and some bad. Some to be baptized in the Holy Spirit, and others in fire.
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Old and New Testaments Restoration Commentary
The commentaries to the books of the Bible were written between approximately 1850-1950.
Authors: John T. Hinds, H. Leo Boles, C.E.W.Dorris, Robert Haldane, James Haldane,Foy E. Wallace,David Lipscomb, Walter Scott, Guy N. Woods, E.M. Zerr, Cecil Douthitt, Joseph Martin, B.W. Johnson, J.W. McGarvey, Harold Winters, Clayton Winters, Ralph Starling, Clinton Gill, Mark Garner, Manly Luscombe, and others.